The End of Writers' Strike 1988
On August 8, 1988, by a vote of 2,111 to 412, members of the Writers Guild of America ratified a new four-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers ending the longest Writers Guild strike in Hollywood history, which surpassed by one day the Writers Guild strike of 1960.
As a result of the 22-week strike, the writers had gained extremely modest financial gain when one-hour television shows were sold to stations abroad.
The old formula for foreign residuals paid a writer a maximum of about $4,400 for a one-hour show.
Under the new plan, the writers would have the option of the existing formula, or a new plan that would pay them 1.2 percent of the producer's foreign sales.
The latter option would apply as long as the payment was not less than 85 percent of the current residual.
But the writers were forced to accept a sliding formula for when episodes of one-hour shows were syndicated to American television stations after their network runs.
That meant that instead of earning a maximum of $16,920 in residual payments for six broadcasts of each episode of a series like "Knots Landing," a writer could receive as little as $8,460 per episode for six showings or, if the market changed, as much as $25,380.
A number of Guild members however remained unsatisfied with the outcome. There was however no clear-cut winner.
The new 1988/1989 season had to be delayed as many shows struggled to premiere in November.
Episode orders for a number of shows were cut from the standard 22-24 to 20 or fewer. Ratings plunged 9% on average as opposed to the previous year.
Of course, the writers themselves as well as production workers, caterers, shipping services and a host of other industries that depended on film and television for their business were out of work for almost half a year causing losses of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Many however hoped the industry learned its lesson and would not let a lengthy strike cripple the television business again.